Our house will have two stairways, one on the northern pod and one on the southern pod (the middle pod does not have a loft). Under the stairs-to-be, we laid a single course of urbanite and then began a cob wall. We don't have the entire stair plan worked out, but the basics are there.
We want a stairway that will help us maximize the space available in our home, and that will look nice. Because storage is huge for a family of four, we decided that under the stairs would be a good place to tuck some things away. After the first layer of cob for the interior stair wall was laid, Jim framed in the door for the under-the-stair closet. The horizontal wood attached to the posts are braces to keep the frame plumb while we are cobbing.
photo August 24th
The stairs are made out of the same logs we harvested for our posts.
Jim chainsawed these rounds in half and then Bjorn, who has been WWOOFing with us, planed them level and smooth.
This was a lot of cob making! We were thrilled that Jim's parents were able to make the long trip out from Wisconsin to visit us and help us cob.
Axel (big Axel, our little Axel is named for his Grandpa shown above) and Arlene both got their feet and hands in our house.
The stairs were laid at about the rate of one stair a day. We had between 2-4 people mixing and building with cob for 5 hrs/day during this time (some of this cob went towards another small portion of wall on the other side of the house). Jim and Bjorn were both focused on the wooden stairs and other wood working most of this time. Here is the stairway August 29th.
Here is the stairway with five stairs on August 30th...
... and here we are, September 1st, up to seven stairs.
By this time we were kicking ourselves about all the mud getting on the surface of our beautiful stairs. Clay can really penetrate and stain wood so Jim's dad helped work out some covering protection for the stairs while we're building. This basically consisted of old grocery boxes tied on with scraps of nylon baling twine.
photo September 5th.
Our little Axel could hardly resist the fun these add to his ever-evolving construction site playground.
Here is the staircase, September 9th, with 10 stairs! Just one more step to the second floor here (you can see the floor joist at the top of the last stair here).
We still have to work out how we are going to treat the underside of the stairs, since there will be a closet beneath them. For now, we're very happy with the way the stairs are feeling and are so grateful to Axel, Arlene, Bjorn, Myles, Heather, Adam, Tammy and everyone else who helped out to grow them!